To say that the coronavirus has created uncertainty for professionals struggling to ply their respective trades would be considered an understatement. A slowing economy struggling to come back has impacted the construction industry. Challenges arise, particularly for subcontractors and material suppliers looking to be paid for federal construction projects.
The Miller Act provides these professionals with a process to ensure that they are paid for the work they do. However, the steps they need to take are complex and require adherence to specific requirements and deadlines to secure the money they earned.
Preserving their rights to recover payment mandates five initial steps:
- Dates and deadlines – The waiting period to pursue civil action against the Miller Act payment bond are 90 days from the last day labor or material was provided to a project. Should a lawsuit become necessary, a one-year requirement is mandated.
- Payment bond review – Payment bond ensures that the general contractor pays project subcontractors and materials suppliers. A thorough examination may uncover additional requirements to bolster the chances of success.
- Evidence collection – Proactive steps are paramount in maintaining evidence going back to the first day that the project started. Necessary documentation includes contracts, purchase orders, proof of material delivery, payment records, and relevant correspondence.
- Pre-suit notice preparation – A detail-driven approach is essential in citing the specific amount of money owed, the party responsible for payment, proof of delivery, and tangible evidence to prove the claim.
- Jurisdiction determination – A Miller Act claim must be filed in the district court located in the area where the work was done.
As with any complicated legal matter where the monetary stakes are high, legal representation is a critical component and could mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful Miller Act claim.